Saturday, February 3rd, improviser, composer, and multi-instrumentalist Brandon Lopez opens his 2018 ISSUE residency with the premiere of Fairer Than Tongue, a solo piece for improviser in three movements. The evening also features a duo performance between Lopez and celebrated Detroit-born jazz drummer Gerald Cleaver, a close collaborator of Lopez’s in numerous configurations (including distinct trios with Andria Nicodemou, Nate Wooley, Keir Neuringer, as well as in various large ensemble formats).
Known for a performative style of intense physicality, Lopez works between boundaries of improvisation and composition generally, often blurring the lines between harmony and percussion in his instrumental technique. Operating between these tense dichotomies, Fairer Than Tongue concentrates on a solo improviser and their uniquely difficult -- and potentially transcendent -- position to subvert these boundaries and develop new expressive possibilities. The piece is situated in a series of pieces (to be composed in residence at ISSUE) that use idiosyncratic improvisational techniques within forms of traditional and graphic notation, as well as aural development, to approach broader themes of catharsis and ritual religiosity.
The first work in this series, Fairer Than Tongue is partly inspired by the grotesquely humorous painting of the beating of Saint Anthony of Padua and its correlation to the imprisonment and torture of the Pedro Albizu Campos (Leader of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Movement) by the US Government. Technically, Lopez employs compositional cells of traditional notation and text to aid in developing and shaping the piece.
Brandon Lopez is a Puerto Rican/American Musician who works primarily in the field of far left music. He was raised in the wilds of Northwestern New Jersey, a place where suburban sprawl meets appalachian splendor, and worked summers as a gravedigger in the shadow of the George Washington Bridge. He’s maintained an obsessive study of noise, free improvisation, non-western art musics, western art musics, new music, and early western art musics. All of the mentioned inform the work, as with everything else. He’s had the pleasure of working with some great noisemakers: He’s a current member of Nate Wooley’s knknighgh quartet and works regularly with William Parker, Paul Lytton, Jooklo Duo, Leila Bordreuil, Mette Rasmussen, Justice Yeldham, Tyshawn Sorey, Peter Evans, Ingrid Laubrock, Tom Rainey, Gerald Cleaver, Man Forever, Joe Morris and many others. He currently leads his own ensemble, The Mess with Chris Corsano and Sam Yulsman, and works extensively as a soloist.
Drummer Gerald Cleaver, born and raised in Detroit, is a product of the city’s rich music tradition. Inspired by his father, drummer John Cleaver, he began playing the drums at an early age, gaining early invaluable experience with Detroit jazz masters Ali Muhammad Jackson, Lamont Hamilton, Earl Van Riper, and Pancho Hagood. He moved to New York in 2002, and he has toured and/or recorded with Henry Threadgill, Roscoe Mitchell, Lotte Anker, Matt Shipp, William Parker, Craig Taborn, Kevin Mahogany, Charles Gayle, Mario Pavone, Ralph Alessi, Jacky Terrasson, Muhal Richard Abrams, Tim Berne, Jemery Pelt, Ellery Eskelin, David Torn, Miroslav Vitous, Terje Rypdal, Michael Formanek and Tomasz Stanko, among others.
Pedro Albizu Campos (September 12, 1891 – April 21, 1965) was a Puerto Rican attorney and politician, and the leading figure in the Puerto Rican independence movement. Albizu Campos was the president and spokesperson of the Puerto Rican Nationalist Party from 1930 until his death in 1965. Because of his oratorical skill, he was hailed as El Maestro (The Teacher). He was imprisoned twenty-six years for attempting to overthrow the United States government in Puerto Rico. Upon release in 1950, he planned and called for armed uprisings in several cities in Puerto Rico. Afterward he was convicted and imprisoned again. He died in 1965.